BRADFORD Dragons may have suffered their sixth successive National Basketball League defeat but their display in the 86-83 loss at Team Northumbria was much improved.

It was definitely odds against for the visitors to Newcastle's Sport Central as they have yet to get off the mark in Division One and were facing hosts who have only lost once so far.

But Bradford welcomed back Jason Swaine, who had been sidelined for three weeks with injury, to their starting five alongside his son Eisley, who has established himself as a regular starter in recent games.

Meanwhile, also among the visiting ranks was American power forward Ricky Fetske, who left the Dragons for Team Northumbria in 2013 before returning.

The teams cancelled each other out during the first five minutes, after which the score was 10-10, but a combination of Bradford turnovers and missed shots allowed Northumbria to score nine unanswered points, forcing Dragons coach Chris Mellor to call the first time-out with 2min 26sec remaining of the opening quarter.

Bradford responded with eight straight points but Northumbria still edged the first quarter 25-20 and were leading 42-29 with less than three minutes of the first half remaining.

But for the remainder of the period, Bradford managed to shut their hosts out and pulled themselves back into contention, assisted by a sweet three-pointer from Eisley Swaine, and reached the half-time refreshments only trailing 42-38.

They and coach Mellor must have done the Dragons some good as Fetske brought the visitors back within one point from the free-throw line, Nick Moore and Fetske then sinking three-pointers as Bradford were in the driving seat for the first time, leading 64-54 at the end of the third quarter.

Eisley Swaine opened the final period with another three-pointer to increase the advantage to 13 but the hosts clawed themselves back into the reckoning, so that it was 75-75 with a little more than two minutes left.

Despite matching each other shot for shot, Team Northumbria made the final basket to sneak victory.

Henri Bongoma headed the scoring for Bradford with 23 points, supported by Jason Swaine (15), Nick Moore and Eisley Swaine (14 each) and Ricky Fetske (12). Moore also made 15 rebounds to notch another double-double.

Mellor said: "They shot 18 out of 31 from the three-point line, which was a massive factor, but we managed to get control of the game midway through the third quarter.

"However, we made too many mistakes with fouls and rebounding assignments late to close the game out."

Basketball returns to the Dragons' Den (Bradford College Sports Hall) with a home fixture against fellow strugglers Westminster Warriors next weekend (6.15pm).

Westminster and Bradford are two of the three teams looking for their first victory of the season.